If You Could Read My Mind

(Through Rose-Coloured Glasses)

If You Could Read My Mind, by Gordon Lightfoot, is one of the most covered songs in popular music history, having been recorded by stars like Barbra Streisand, Olivia Newton-John, Duane Steele, Petula Clark, Kenny Rogers, Gene Clark, Don McLean, Liza Minnelli, Johnny Cash, and – in disco versions – by Viola Wills and Stars On 54.

This is one of Lightfoot’s most personal songs, mourned the break up of his first marriage. You can feel his anguish, lost and confusion. He did not know why their feelings for each other were gone, and could never get it back again. He wanted to move on, but like a ghost in a wishing well, his sorrow imprisoned him for life.

If You Could Read My Mind

©1969 by Gordon Lightfoot

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong,
With chains upon my feet.
You know that ghost is me.
And I will never be set free
As long as I’m a ghost that you can’t see.

If I could read your mind, love,
What a tale your thoughts could tell.
Just like a paperback novel,
The kind the drugstores sell.
Then you reached the part where the heartaches come,
The hero would be me.
But heroes often fail,
And you won’t read that book again
Because the ending’s just too hard to take!

I’d walk away like a movie star
Who gets burned in a three way script.
Enter number two:
A movie queen to play the scene
Of bringing all the good things out in me.
But for now, love, let’s be real;
I never thought I could feel this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it.
I don’t know where we went wrong,
But the feeling’s gone
And I just can’t get it back.

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong.
With chains upon my feet.
But stories always end,
And if you read between the lines,
You’d know that I’m just tryin’ to understand
The feelin’s that we lack.
I never thought I could feel this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it.
I don’t know where we went wrong,
But the feelin’s gone
And I just can’t get it back!

假如您能看透我的心, 親愛的,
正想着, 是個怎樣的故事。
如一套陳年電影,
一個躲在許願井裡的幽靈,
在黑漆的古堡, 堅固的城樓,
上了腳鐐。
您可知否, 那幽靈就是我。
永遠被監禁,
那您永見不到的幽靈。

假如我能看透您的心, 親愛的,
正想着, 是個怎樣的故事。
如一本流行小説,
藥房出售的那種。
當您讀到, 令人痛心的地方,
那英雄就是我,
多次失敗的英雄。
您不再重温那書,
結局實在太難受。

我巳離去。 如電影明星,
燒傷, 在一個三角劇裡。
進場, 是另一位
影后, 扮演她的角色,
鼓勵我的長處。
現在, 親愛的, 應面對現實。
從沒想到, 我的感情, 弄至如斯。
聽我細訢, 我想不通,
我們錯在那裡,
感情早巳淨盡,
也沒法挽回來。

假如您能看透我的心, 親愛的,
正想着, 是個怎樣的故事。
如一套陳年電影,
一個躲在許願井裡的幽靈,
在黑漆的古堡, 堅固的城樓,
上了腳鐐。
故事終會完結,
字裡行間,
您定能體會, 我渴望了解,
這貧困的感情。
從沒想到, 我的感情, 弄至如斯。
聽我細訢, 我想不通,
我們錯在那裡,
感情早巳淨盡,
也沒法挽回來。

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3 Responses to If You Could Read My Mind

  1. 慢郎中 says:

    Thanks FB, I enjoyed your explanation of the lyrics followed by Gordon Lightfoot’s footage on YouTube.

  2. YK 1965 says:

    How did/does Sylvia feel about her break-up with Ian, with “The Sound of Silence”?

  3. YK 1965 says:

    Sorry, I mixed up Lightfoot with Tyson. Gordon’s first wife is Brita Ingegerd Olaisson.–YK

    This is from Wikipedia:

    The song “If You Could Read My Mind” was written in reflection upon his disintegrating marriage. At the request of his daughter, Ingrid, he performs the lyrics with a slight change now; the line “I’m just trying to understand the feelings that you lack” is altered to “I’m just trying to understand the feelings that we lack.” He has said in an interview that the difficulty with writing songs inspired by personal stories is that there is not always the emotional distance and clarity to make lyrical improvements such as the one his daughter suggested.

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